SANTA CLARA (KCBS) – The days are numbered for the last piece of usable farmland in Santa Clara, slated to become housing for the elderly and those with limited means.

Except for the weeds, the 17 acres behind a padlocked gate near Santana Row have sat empty for many years. Now neighbors are lamenting the loss of another piece of what used to be called the Valley of Heart’s Delight.

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“I remember years and years ago, when I first came into San Jose, this used to be all orchards,” said John Ward, who’s lived in the area near Stevens Creek for 35 years.

Most recently this parcel was an agricultural research station owned by the state.

“It was the only area left in Santa Clara County that was considered farmland,” Ward said.

KCBS’ Matt Bigler Reports:

In a few weeks, bulldozers will start clearing the land to build 110 units 2-story units in an area the neighborhood tried unsuccessfully in 2008 to preserve as open space, said Santa Clara assistant city manger Carol McCarthy.

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“While I can appreciate that having open space there would be nice, there wasn’t the money there to purchase it for that purpose,” she said, adding that the city had an acute need for elderly housing.

Ward said he doesn’t relish the idea of windows in 110 2-story buildings looking down on his backyard, or all the cars those new neighbors will bring.

“We have enough traffic as it is,” he said.

Where Ward sees open land, city planners see a plot of land close to the Westfield Valley Fair Shopping Mall and walking distance from a major bus stop.

Developer SummerHill Homes expects to have the first units available for purchase within two years.

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